BOOK REVIEW – Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn

Bottled Goods

Published July 28th, 2020 by Harper Perennial (first published July 11th, 2018)



An interesting and unique read!

“Bottled Goods is written in short bursts of “flash fiction” and explores universal themes of empowerment, liberty, family, and loyalty.”

Bottled Goods is set in the 1970’s Romania during Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu’s repressive regime. Alina and her husband, Liviu are both teachers living in Romania. While life is far from easy, they are relatively happy.

Then came the Saturday when everything changed…

They arrive home one afternoon and find two men in grey suits waiting for them. “Please come with us. We have to ask you a few questions.”

It seems Alina’s brother-in-law; Mihai is not planning on returning to Romania.  

They are persecuted for Mihai’s defection and immediately put under surveillance. They are harassed by authorities and ignored by their friends. Alina is visited by the secret police weekly, and the visits become even more terrifying.

Alina and her husband struggle for freedom. But freedom can come at a great cost.

How can they possibly escape if the government is watching and listening? Plus there are others who may want to jinx their plans.

Will Alina’s Aunt Theresa be able to help?

To be honest, “Bottled Goods” is not likely a book I would have chosen for myself. However, I’ve been trying to broaden my horizons by reading books I might not normally read.

This was a very quick read at 192 pages, and the short chapters seemed to make it go even faster. The story is told from Alina’s point of view.

The author created some very intriguing characters, especially the superstitious Aunt Theresa. I couldn’t help but feel for Alina and I can’t imagine how I would have handled the situations she was in.  I enjoyed learning more about Romanian folklore, and while I’m not a huge fan of magical realism, it seemed to fit in well here. I’m not sure how I felt about the ending but overall, I thought this was an enjoyable read.

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing me with a copy of this novel. All opinions are my own.

8 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW – Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn

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